Election campaign day 32: Fresh betting blow for Tories

Election campaign day 32: Fresh betting blow for Tories

Home Secretary James Cleverly drew the short straw of being sent out to respond to yet more allegations about bets placed by senior Tories.

Here are the key moments from day 32 on the General Election campaign trail:

– The wagers of sin

Another day, another senior Tory drawn in to the row over bets placed on the timing of the General Election before Rishi Sunak’s surprise July 4 announcement.

Nick Mason, the Tories’ chief data officer, has taken a leave of absence after the Sunday Times reported he has been informed by the Gambling Commission that he is part of the inquiry.

He is said to deny any wrongdoing but he joins another official, two Tory candidates and one of Rishi Sunak’s police protection officers in being investigated over bets.

With speculation at Westminster about how wide the Gambling Commission’s inquiry might go, Mr Cleverly said he believed only a “small number” of individuals were covered.

Asked if any ministers had bet on the timing, he told the BBC: “Not to my knowledge at all, no.”

– Cut the crap

The Home Secretary was also tasked with explaining why his parliamentary aide James Sunderland was caught on tape describing the Rwanda policy as “crap”.

In a recording passed to the BBC, Mr Sunderland can be heard giving his verdict on the policy, but insisting it would still have the desired deterrent effect. “There is no doubt at all that when those first flights take off that it will send such a shockwave across the Channel that the gangs will stop,” he said.

Mr Cleverly told Sky News that Mr Sunderland made a “counterintuitive statement” for “dramatic effect to grab the attention of the audience”.

“But he is – and it’s clear in the recording – completely supportive of the deterrent effect that the Rwanda policy has.”

– An end to the culture wars? 

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said she wanted to take the heat out of the row over transgender guidance for schools.

“Let’s stop this being a political football,” she told the BBC. “This is our children’s lives, their wellbeing, it’s too important to make this a culture wars issue on the front pages of newspapers.”

Draft guidance, published before the election was called, states that England’s schools should not teach about the concept of gender identity.

Asked if she would ditch the proposed ban, Ms Phillipson said trans people’s “existence should be recognised” before saying discussion on the issue “drifts sometimes into a slightly bizarre conversation”.

– Quote of the day

– Don’t poke the bear

Nigel Farage said the eastward expansion of Nato and the European Union had given Vladimir Putin the excuse to invade Ukraine.

“If you poke the Russian bear with a stick, don’t be surprised if he responds,” he wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.

But Mr Farage insisted “I am not and never have been an apologist or supporter of Putin” and the Ukraine invasion was “immoral, outrageous and indefensible”.

Mr Cleverly accused Mr Farage of “victim blaming of the worst order”.

– Independence Day

The will of the Scottish people on independence should not be “thwarted” by the UK government if the SNP wins a majority of seats on July 4, Scotland’s First Minister said.

Labour leader Sir Keir has said he would not engage in such talks if he becomes prime minister.

But speaking to LBC on Sunday, Mr Swinney said: “Keir Starmer accepts that the United Kingdom is a voluntary union, it is a bringing together of the countries of the United Kingdom, in which Scotland is entitled to exercise our right to say ‘well, actually, we want to be governed differently as a consequence of our votes’.

“That should not be thwarted by the actions of the United Kingdom government.”

– Picture of the day

Home Secretary James Cleverly speaking to the media
Home Secretary James Cleverly speaking to the media outside BBC Broadcasting House in London (Lucy North/PA)

– A glimpse of the near future? 

With the polls suggesting a heavy Tory defeat, potential successors to Rishi Sunak have been setting out their stalls.

Former immigration minister Robert Jenrick used a Mail on Sunday article to say the party should be the “natural home for Reform voters” and Boris Johnson “must always have a place”  as he sought to rebuild the coalition of support that provided the 2019 Tory landslide.

Ex-home secretary Dame Priti Patel used a Sunday Telegraph column to press the case for lower taxes.

Current Home Secretary James Cleverly insisted he was focused on “getting myself and my colleagues re-elected to form a Conservative majority”. But, he told Sky News, “if that isn’t the case, then we will deal with the circumstances as we find that”.

– Social media moment of the day

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey took to social media to try and convince voters he has the grit and determination to take over as leader of the country, by navigating an assault course.

In a video posted to X by his party, Sir Ed can be seen running, speedily crawling under netting and jumping to the song Montage from the soundtrack of the satirical film Team America: World Police, as some of the Lib Dems’ main policies flash across the screen.

Social media users flocked to the comments section to swap out the faces of popular action characters – including Indiana Jones – with that of the party leader, with others suggesting he may be ready to take on the Olympics in Paris.

– What’s happening tomorrow?

Mr Sunak and Sir Keir will face questions from Sun readers as part of the newspaper’s Never Mind The Ballots show.

Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay will be interviewed by Nick Robinson as part of the BBC’s series of Panorama specials.

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage’s interview with the ITV Tonight programme will be aired.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies will give its verdict on the main parties’ manifestos.